Gameloft’s Spider-Man Unlimited is an endless running game that has swung onto mobile devices last week. The game sets itself apart in the overcrowded genre by delivering a well crafted story, beautiful hand-drawn graphics with a cel-shaded style and superb, smooth gameplay. Furthermore, it is the first free Spider-Man game and lives up to the franchise name and by far the best endless runner I have played to date.
Story – The world’s first narrative driven endless runner
The game is the first endless runner that incorporates a story. Not only does it have a story, but it sets itself further apart by the story actually being good. The story is fun, engaging and everything you would expect from a Marvel comic book, which is simply brilliant.
Dimensional wormholes have opened up above New York City, and tons of bad guys led by the Sinister Six of multiple realities are spilling out and wrecking everything in their path, all in search of a rare isotope called ISO-8.
The prolific Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. asks Spidey for his help in stopping the Sinister Six, of which the Green Goblin if the first. However, Spidey feels overwhelmed at the mammoth task, until Nick Fury shows him S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secret weapon. The weapon is a portal capable of pulling Spider-Men from across multiple dimensions to combat the sinister threat to the world.
The portal leads to the ability for Gameloft to add a ton of costumes, character variations and a deep narrative that almost any Spider-Man fan would love just to read. Spider-Man fans should get ready for characters straight out of Spidey’s greatest hits, for example Scarlet Spider or The Armored Spider.
Furthermore, the game is even broken up into issues, just like the comic books. Throughout each issue, the player will attempt to stop a specific villain. At the moment two issues have been released, the first one surrounds the Green Goblin and the second, the Vulture.
The next issue will be released soon and will be free to download and play as well. After completing the story, I am more amped than I have ever been for the next update of a mobile game to come out, yet I am still enjoying it right now due to the excellent gameplay and controls.
Gameplay – Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can
As an endless runner, Spider-Man Unlimited is all about navigating three lanes by dodging any and all nasty obstacles in your way. However, the game does add a ton of depth with the expertly executed swing mechanic coupled with a variety of different enemies.
The running itself is responsive, tight and smooth. Jumping and sliding from side to side is not new by any means of the imagination, yet the game sets itself apart by an interesting yet difficult sling mechanic, as you swing from webs in order to leap through the sky.
Other times, you will be free-falling; dodging whatever is coming at you. Furthermore, there are enemies on each level that you have to dispatch of in a specific way. Some enemies shield themselves at the last moment, requiring you to slide in order to knock them out. Others fly up, requiring you to jump and knock them down, thereby avoiding the fiery death their jetpack brings.
At the end of the main story levels, a boss battle will occur. These battles are relatively straight forward yet at the same time extremely fun. For example, fighting the Green Goblin requires you to slide underneath a big blue ball, knocking it up into the air and hitting the Goblin.
While it is easy to execute in theory, when the game throws in a ton of enemies, moving objects and a deadly environment, hitting these balls perfectly becomes challenging.
The challenging boss fights fits in perfect with the fast, frantic gameplay, while the variety of enemies and moving objects in the environment create a whole lot of fun, engagement from the player and a will to progress. This excellent gameplay is made even more enjoyable with the brilliant cel-shaded graphics, sound effects, voice acting and music that inspire heroism.
Graphics and Sound – Glorious cel-shading
Staying true to the comic books, Spider-Man Unlimited uses hand drawn environments and characters, rendered in a cel-shaded graphical style that would make any comic book fan foam at the mouth.
The graphics look spectacular and is coupled with animations that are extremely smooth, almost lifelike in their execution. Throughout my time with the game I could get lost just looking at the movement in the environment, as blocks fall onto each other, explosions destroy obstacles and others fall into place.
Enemy and boss animations are done just as well, with fast paced fights creating even more movement. For example, knocking a certain type of enemy out of the sky does not only have one death animation, but at least three as far as I could count. Furthermore, the game continues to deliver that amazing comic book feeling by adding text bubbles such as “POW!!” when you knock an enemy down.
The exceptional graphics combine perfectly with great sound effects from both enemies and the environment. Bosses also taunt you throughout the levels and Spidey himself even joins in the banter with some excellent one-liners.
The music, although limited in variety, finishes off a complete package with some tracks that inspires heroic actions, akin to that of the first few Spider-Man movies and is surely something fans of the Spider-Man franchise will enjoy immensely.
Longevity and In App Purchases
Spider-Man Unlimited is free-to-play and like most of the free games, it does offer some In App Purchaces (IAP), yet to the praise of Gameloft, the IAP offered in Spider-Man Unlimited are not thrown in your face and I never really felt the need to drop some real cash on the game to enjoy it.
There are two types of currency in the game, namely vials and ISO-8. Vials are collected via normal gameplay, while ISO-8 is a rare substance that you get from completing missions or by dropping some real cash on the game.
You spend in-game currency to buy different Spider-Men selected at random. It’s a mechanic that is straight out of card battle games, and it works shockingly well here. Sometimes you will end up with the same Spider-Man, which is ok, because you’re going to need to fuse cards to speed up leveling and raise their level caps to the maximum of level 30. These levels offer an incentive to keep playing, boosting your Spidey’s power.
In terms of longevity, the story mode is already relatively long, taking around 6 hours to complete. Coupled with the story mode is an endless running mode in which you can level up, climb the leaderboards and simply enjoy the engaging gameplay.
Furthermore, the game also offers weekly events, in which you can compete for prizes against other players. The weekly events also offer progressive rewards the further you run, making Spider-Man Unlimited an almost unlimited experience of social and competitive play.
My Spidy-senses tell me that Spider-Man Unlimited will be one of, if not the top mobile game for 2014. The game’s take on the crowded endless runner genre is superbly done, as it sets itself apart with story driven campaign and a narrative worthy of any superhero movie. The cel-shaded graphical style and brilliantly done animations work together perfectly with the music, sound and voice acting to create something special. Furthermore, the gameplay is fast paced, exciting and increases in difficulty at a well balanced pace, making Spider-Man Unlimited a game you do not want to miss out on.
Spider-Man Unlimited has been recently released for Android and iOS. The game is free to download and can be found on the Playstore here, iTunes here and Windows Phone here. It requires a small download of around 21mb (with additional 100mb in game) as well as Android OS version 4.0 and up, so it works on a wide variety of devices. During my time with the game I used my Nexa Orion 10.1, a powerful yet affordable Quad Core 10 Inch Tablet to run, jump swing and run all while honing my spidy senses.
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